Go Away With … Kunal Nayyar


By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
December 1, 2015

Born in London, raised in New Delhi and currently working in Los Angeles, actor Kunal Nayyar is known to millions of fans as Raj Koothrappali on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” After making his New York theatre debut earlier this summer in the off-Broadway show, “The Spoils,” Nayyar released his autobiographical book, “Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You” (Atria Books, $26).

Kunal is married to former Miss India, Neha Kapur. Fans may follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

Q. Where are you based out of?

A. (Laughs). That’s a good question. It’s interesting living and working in two different countries — both India and the United States. Whenever I have time, I go to India and see my mom and dad. We’ll be there for Christmas. And for work, I’m based out of Los Angeles.

Q. Everyone I interview says they want to get to India one day. Are you blase about it because it’s home?

A. I can see why everyone would want to visit. It’s a fascinating place and people want to see the vibrant colors and experience the culture. I’m not blase about it, but to me India is where I grew up so I’m not fascinated by it in the way tourists are. For me, it’s not about how India looks or the food or things like that. It’s the way it feels. I think that when some people experience India, it can be overwhelming to their senses. To me, when I land in India, I get a feeling that’s hard to describe.

Q. So where do you and your wife go to enjoy a getaway?

A. Maui is our quick getaway and it is a place that we get away to quite frequently. We also spend a lot of time in New York, which we love. If I had to describe our travel, I would say that it’s less exploratory and more sort of mandatory, because we have big families across the world that we have to — and want to — see and we have places we need to be for work. But we love traveling. It’s an adventure. I also love Montreal and Quebec and don’t get back there enough.

Q. How much adulation do you receive in India?

A. I’m not super famous like a Bollywood star. Everyone — from the richest to the poorest — knows who you are then. They are the true stars in India and can’t walk around without being mobbed. The attention for me is in places like Delhi, where the English-speaking crowd watch “The Big Bang Theory.” I may get recognized in circles with lots of college students. I’m popular with the kids. But I’m definitely not in the same league as the Bollywood stars.

Q. Did you travel a lot as a kid?

A. I did get to experience a lot of travel. I was born in London, we traveled around England. We also did a lot of traveling in India. I went to Kathmandu (Nepal). It was wonderful. When I was 9, we took a trip to America. We drove up and down the West Coast and went to Disneyland. I was fascinated by that. It was amazing how colorful and loud America was.

Q. What is on your travel bucket list?

A. I have never been to Japan. I’m a big foodie and like to experience cultures through food. I know the Japanese are known for the sushi, but they have also become masters of culinary arts for other cuisines. And, of course, I want to go to Mount Fuji. I want to ride a bullet train, too.

Q. Where have you experienced the best meals?

A. Oh, there are so many so that’s difficult to say. I would probably say the Gramercy Tavern in New York. And there’s a restaurant in New Delhi called the Indian Accent that I really like.

Q. What’s your guilty pleasure when you’re traveling?

A. My unhealthiest obsession is French fries. I try to eat well and in moderation, but I could eat French fries every day.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I lived in Portland, Oregon, for four years (he attended the University of Portland) and I thought that was one of those cities that was a hidden gem. It really was one of those cities that is steeped in art and culture and there’s always something interesting going on. It kind of felt like Europe sometimes.

© 2015 JAE-HA KIM


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